- Japanese Grand Prix - Qualifying
Alonso confident in Ferrari race pace
Fernando Alonso says Ferrari will be more competitive in race trim than he was in qualifying at Suzuka after setting a time over a second off the pace for the Japanese Grand Prix.
Alonso appeared to be really struggling in final practice and Q1, but when asked how he managed to pick up his pace for Q2 he said: "I just started to push". Even so, he finished 1.2s off Sebastian Vettel in Q3 and will start from sixth on the grid.
"We are not that competitive on Saturday because on pure performance they are quicker than us, but on Sunday normally we improve our pace. Strategies, pit stops and starts are normally very good and the points are given on Sunday and on Sunday we don't feel less strong than the other teams. Perhaps we lack a bit of performance over a single lap, but on Sunday our team has no fear from anyone."
Asked if he was concerned by Red Bull's pace given that Vettel is his closest challenger in the championship, Alonso added: "There's not much we can do. They are quick, they are on the front row and they are very competitive. It's up to us to improve. Concerned? Well, obviously we would like to be a bit faster but we are not so we need to work and need to improve.
"In 2010 they were maybe more than one second faster than us and we were leading the championship up until Abu Dhabi. Now they are eight tenths to one second faster than us and we are leading the championship, so let's just say we are used to being slower than our competitors and fighting for the championship."
Alonso is expecting multiple pit stops during the race after several drivers noted severe degradation on the soft tyres.
"It's a demanding circuit for tyres and we saw last year it was a three-stop race," he said. "The tyres are similar to last year if not softer so it's a race to manage well. At the same time you need to push because it's not a circuit where you can back off because they will overtake you at some of the good possibilities. We see tomorrow and it will depend on temperature and many things. But, yes, it will be a multiple stop race."